Income solution

 Sept. 13, 2013

 Globe and Mail  – Michael Babad
Would boosting minimum wage help ease the income gap?

Given all the recent news around income disparity and the consequences on the economy and on personal lives, the reduction of the income gap  is now the question.  The Ontario Chamber of Commerce wants to link the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

Related article:  CBC News Wealthiest 1% earn 10 times more than average Canadian – Canada’s rich earn on average $381,300 a year and are mostly male, white and married   Related article: Huffington Post – Canadian Press  National Household Survey: Canada’s Diversity Not Reflected In Income Distribution   Related article (US) Newsmax  Lisa Barron  Study: Richest 1 Percent Earn Record Share of US Income

 Canadian Mental Health Association – John Howard Society
Ontario’s bail system and its impact on people with mental health and addictions issues 

The report reviews over 300 specific cases and found that 40% had mental health issues, 70% had substance abuse and alcohol issues and 31% both.  JHS has some suggestions on how to improve the bail process.   Full report in pdf format:  Reasonable Bail

 Toronto Star – Jim Rankin and Patty Winsa
Unequal justice: Aboriginal and black inmates disproportionately fill Ontario jails

 With information from the Freedom of Information, U of T doctoral candidate Akwasi Owusu-Bempah has discovered that Aboriginals and Blacks are disproportionately represented in admissions to youth and adult jails in Ontario.  With 2.9 % of the general population, Aboriginal males are 15% of jail admissions, a ratio of 5 times over-represented.  Blacks are four times over represented.  Aboriginal females are 10 times over represented.  Youth figures appear to parallel adult numbers and surprisingly, the US scene as well.

 Global News (Toronto) – Amy Minsky 
The Hounds of Parliament: an interview series with Canada’s 8 independent watchdogs

 Global is undertaking an examination of the eight independent watchdogs who are “the pillars of open and accountable government” continue to do their work.  Over the summer, each of the offices sat down with Global and now Minsky offers an assessment. 

 BBC News 
Offenders not ‘properly risk-assessed’ before release  

 The report, from parole and prison agencies, looks at about 13,000 inmates who are risk assessed as they approach the point of parole eligibility and end of sentence.  The report alleges inadequate preparation for release, inadequate information and even confusion around who is supposed to gather the assessment.  Says Chief Inspector of Probation Liz Calderbank “We were shocked at the fact there was a lack of clarity and confusion about who was responsible for completing risk assessments when in custody.”  UK Government pdf report in full:  A joint  inspection of Life sentence prisoners  

 CBC Ideas – Paul Kennedy
Alone Inside 

 Kennedy’s introduction is a review of the Ashley Smith circumstances.  Then, freelance journalist Brett Story explores the history of segregation or solitary with a number of people including two who have done serious time and serious solitary.  UBC’s Michael Jackson, well known human rights lawyer and long time activist in prisoners’ rights, also comments.  The link is to a 54 minute audio track.  

 The Gulf News (Port aux Basques, NF)  – Randy Leib
Some thoughts on crime and poverty 

 A small town journalist has some reflections on the connection between crime and poverty.  Leib thinks that choice following the outlook of the individual and his or her circumstances has a great deal to do with crime.  He thinks a hard childhood may have delivered him. 

 Law Times
New case shows challenge of litigating prison assaults 

 Assaults of prisoners on prisoners are common place in Ontario jails – in 2009 there were over 2500 incidents – but here is a cautionary tale about trying to hold the jails responsible when one prisoner harms another.  The crux of the matter is the ability to prove a duty of care for the injured inmate has been breached.  The appropriate arrangement for the cash settlement in favour of the inmate also get a discussion.  

 Law Times
Conflicts a big headache for ex-judges 

 Two weeks after the Sammy Yatim shooting by Toronto police, former associate chief justice Dennis O’Connor agreed to head a review of the incident and the police use of force.  Reaction to the potential conflict of interest, says Roy McMurtry, former Ontario chief justice, shows the headaches for law firms to which the ex-judges belong.  The firm – Borden Ladner Gervais –   represents the insurer for the Toronto police.  O’Connor has now declined the role.